Ka-Zar: Guns of the Savage Land – A Marvel Graphic Novel

By Chuck Dixon, Timothy Truman, Gary Kwapisz & Ricardo Villagrán (Marvel)
ISBN: 0-87135-641-4

Beginning as a knock-off Tarzan in a lost sub-polar realm of swamp-men and dinosaurs Ka-Zar eventually evolved into one of Marvel’s more complex – if variable – characters. Wealthy heir to one of Britain’s oldest noble families, his best friend is a sabre-tooth tiger, his wife is feisty super-heroine Shanna the She-Devil and his brother is a homicidal super-scientific bandit.

Lord Kevin Plunder is perpetually torn between the clean life-or-death simplicity of the jungle and the bewildering constant compromises of modern civilisation. As this enjoyable, under-appreciated tale unfolds it is clear that the dichotomy is driving him crazy…

Sociologist and Native American Wyatt Wingfoot (associate of the Fantastic Four and sometime paramour of the She-Hulk) is called to a hospital to consult on an enigmatic dying man. The fatally radioactive John Doe has walked out of heart of the Nevada desert, and has clearly lived in place no hint of civilisation has ever touched. He speaks nothing but an unknown tongue that might just be the basis of all Indian language.

Is it possible he has come from the fabled Hopi legend-land Sibopay, Third World of Creation, far under the Earth? Could it be that the South Polar Savage Land extends as far as America? Luckily, the burly researcher knows of an expert in subterranean lost worlds…

Seemingly shaken from his bipolar fugues by the promise of adventure, Ka-Zar is eager to find out, and with Zabu and Shanna joins Wingfoot in a borrowed flying Fantasticar on a voyage of primal discovery to an unspoiled realm that promises to cure all his soul’s ills.

Little does the Lord of the Savage Jungle suspect that a rapacious energy conglomerate has already found his lost promised land, and is well on the way to eradicating both native dinosaur wildlife and the innocent proto-Indians of Sibopay. Nor does anybody realise just how much civilisation has poisoned Ka-Zar’s heart and soul…

This is a grand old-fashioned “Lost World” romp of giant beasts, scurrilous greedy men and noble savages, skillfully paying tribute to those wonderful old Gold Key/Dell series like Turok, Son of Stone and Kona, Monarch of Monster Island (Sam Glanzman’s adventure masterpiece which is long overdue for the deluxe archive treatment) gloriously reveling in the age-old battles of old against new, greed versus contentment, and man against beast.

Dixon and Truman perfectly blend Marvel continuity with classic adventure themes, and Gary Kwapisz’s solid storytelling is magically elevated by Ricardo Villagrán’s lush yet gritty painting. A little outside the company’s regular – if complex – comfort zone, this is a rousing tale any newcomer could enjoy without recourse to decades of back-story.
© 1990 Marvel Entertainment Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.